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Energy and Environment

Researchers Tackle Lake Tahoe's Blueness, Low Water Levels

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KUNR
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  A report detailing the state of Lake Tahoe was released on Thursday, raising concerns about the continued impact of low water levels. Reno Public Radio’s Julia Ritchey reports.

A packed conference room listened raptly as Geoff Schladow went over a few of the most salient points in this year’s report at the Sierra Nevada College in Incline Village.

Schladow directs the the University of California-Davis’ Tahoe Environmental Research Center. He says some of their main concerns are increasing amounts of microscopic algae and the rate of evaporation.

Lake Tahoe is losing about 4 feet of water a year and levels have fallen below the natural rim. 

“An inch of water across the surface of Lake Tahoe is 3.5 billion gallons,” says Schladow. “We can’t harvest it — it’s going to happen.”

Another highlight of the report was that the blueness and clarity of the lake are not as correlated as previously thought.

 “What we’re finding is that blueness and clarity are controlled by different things," says Schladow. "It’s algae that controls the blueness. Clarity is only modestly affected by the algae.”

Heidi Doyle lives in Tahoe Vista, on the north shore of the lake. As a 30-year resident, she attends the event annually to stay informed.

“I think what concerns me most is that the number one pollutant to Lake Tahoe is car emissions,” says Doyle. “It’s a very complicated political environment that we live in right now, and (I hope) the political bodies can really get together to come up with a unified solution for transportation.”

The report had some good news about the clarity of the lake, which improved by about 7 feet from last year.

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